In Brown’s stellar, evocative novel, Jewish siblings Chaya and Asher Shaderowsky move with their family to America from Ukraine to work on a Wisconsin collective farm. As a young woman in 1891, in order to escape an arranged marriage, Chaya flees with eight-year-old Asher to Chicago, where she finds work in a cigar factory and he becomes a thief, modeling himself after Robin Hood. Chaya is courted by Gregory Stillman, a young writer from a wealthy background; she can scarcely believe that this gentile wants to marry her. Of course, their relationship causes problems with Gregory’s family. Asher, meanwhile, has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and is drawn to the new University of Chicago and the Columbian Exposition, where he finds employment. Radicalized, he attempts to help those thrown out of work by the Exposition’s completion. Uneasy with her new wealth and marriage, Chaya’s allegiance is split between the haves and the have-nots, even as she becomes pregnant and an act of terrorism threatens to undo her new life. In Chaya and Asher, Brown (Before and After) creates two memorable strivers. She transports the reader to Gilded Age Chicago and recreates the Jewish immigrant experience as incisively as Henry Roth in Call It Sleep. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/15/2018 Release date: 10/16/2018 Genre: Fiction
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